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What Are Ember Days?

What Are Ember Days?

Among many Christians, it is a custom to observe Ember Days, a cluster of four sets of three days in the calendar year, roughly around the start of the four seasons. They are set aside by the Church as a way to mark the passage of seasons through prayer and fasting.

What Are Ember Days?

The name is derived from the Latin quattuor tempora, meaning “Four Times” or “Four Seasons.”

The specific themes for each Ember Week of the year are as follows:

Spring: the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Ash Wednesday, to give thanks for the rebirth of nature and for the gift of light (usually flowers are offered at this time).

Summer: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Pentecost, to give thanks for the wheat crop.

Fall: the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of the Holy Cross (September 14),  to give thanks for the grape harvest.

Winter: the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of St. Lucy (December 13), during the third week of Advent, to give thanks for the olive crop.

The significance of the days of the week is that Wednesday was the day Christ was betrayed, Friday was the day He was crucified, and Saturday was the day He was entombed.

When Are Ember Days In 2020:

Lenten Ember Days – March: 4, 6, and 7

Summer Ember Days – June 3, 5, and 6

Fall Ember Days: September 16, 18, and 19

Advent Ember Days: December 16, 18, and 19

Ember Days Folklore:

According to folklore, the weather conditions of each of the three days of an Embertide foretells the weather conditions for the following three months.


The Farmers’ Almanac has long carried the Ember Days in each of our editions. 

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1 Harry Pele { 01.15.20 at 11:08 am }

The old timers here in Ky say that you should never fence on Ember days. If you put a nail into a tree on ember days it will kill the tree. Kinda goes along with what Susan Higgins says about Ember days being a good time to clean fence rows.

2 JMC { 12.19.19 at 5:01 pm }

There are no ember days in July. There are no Rogation Days, either, so I don’t know what your grandmother was referring to. Assuming she’s of my generation, and Catholic, in her childhood all Fridays of the year were days of abstinence (i.e., no meat), but not of fasting. If she wasn’t Catholic, then that most likely explains why she thought there were ember days in July, since there are both confusion and outright myths among non-Catholics about what the beliefs and practices involve.

3 Amanda Metcalf { 09.18.19 at 10:09 am }

So where I live, it’s going to be hot and dry the next three days. Does that mean the next three months will be warm and no rain?

4 Susan Higgins { 03.24.19 at 10:23 am }

Hi Roger, we looked online and found this bit of folklore about pruning and Ember Days: “Ember Days are super killing days when absolutely no planting should occur. Like the “regular” killing days Aries and Leo, reserve them for deadening, cleaning out fence rows, cutting down trees — not pruning, but cutting down — in short anything that doesn’t involve planting.”

5 Roger Lee { 03.23.19 at 6:08 pm }

I’ve always heard that ember days were a good time to prune and cut trees, true or false? Thanks

6 Shirley Black { 12.30.18 at 7:47 pm }

What are the Ember Days for 2019?

7 Keshea Slate { 07.09.09 at 10:23 pm }

Hi, my grandma said something about there being ember days in July and I am just checking to make sure so we are not misled and mess up in cutting our raspberry bushes. If you could let me know for sure that would be great. like I said I was just wondering just to be sure. Thanks a lot.

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